ATHENS – Marshall Morgan recalls the longest made field goal of his high school career: It was in the district playoffs. Near the end of the first half.
“It was a 59 or 60-yarder,” he said.
Wait, he doesn’t remember whether it was 59 or 60?
“It was 60, but the newspaper wrote 59,” Morgan said. “It was 60.”
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They keep stats pretty accurately in the SEC, the next step in Morgan’s kicking career. Even though he hasn’t officially been named the starter, the expectation is Morgan will be the man once Georgia opens on Sept. 1 against Buffalo.
Morgan’s abilities will be under a wide microscope, as Bulldog fans are curious whether he can ably replace his fellow south Florida native, Blair Walsh.
But the glare of the fans may be nothing compared to any pressure Morgan has felt already this preseason. Yes, he is aware that teammates and coaches have been watching him and freshman punter Collin Barber very closely.
“Oh of course. I know everyone’s looking out (at us). Because we’re the new guys,” Morgan said. “Everyone’s gonna judge us, and every single kick is being watched. So I feel like every single kick, you’ve gotta treat it like it’s your last kick, and give it your best.”
Morgan got off to a bit of a rough start. In the first scrimmage, he missed a chip shot field goal attempt. Asked what went wrong, he just grimaced
“I don’t know. I just wasn’t happy it,” he said.
It was a better second scrimmage: A 40-yarder in overtime, and all his extra points.
Morgan isn’t quite assured to kick every field goal or extra point. Senior walk-on Jamie Lindley also figures to get some chances. (The pair are also kicking off.) After last season, when Walsh struggled and walk-on Brandon Bogotay got some chances, it seems likely the coaching staff will want Morgan ready to prove himself with every kick. At least initially.
Morgan said he’s up to the task. He said several times that he thrives on pressure. So the 93,000 glaring fans at Sanford Stadium won’t be a hindrance.
“It’s definitely gonna be mind-blowing, I know that,” he said. “I’m gonna walk out there, I may get the goose bumps, not because I’m nervous, but because it’s something I’ve never experienced before. But like I said, I do like the pressure, it’ll be a good experience.”